You decide to take control of your health and start dieting and going to the gym. After a few weeks you notice your pants fit better, your arms are firmer, but your weight has increased! You panic, you start starving yourself, or worse, you give up trying since apparently your body just can’t lose weight. You give up only after a couple of short weeks.
This is the story of so many people who believe that the scale is the most important part of your “weight loss journey”. Although many people do need to lose weight, the number one goal of everyone should be to get healthier. Many personal trainers, magazine advertisements, and infomercials focus on the amount of weight loss you can achieve by following a certain training or product. This allows each of these entities to profit off of their customers by keeping them hooked since they may or may not be losing “weight”, so they need additional guidance or products.
What is weight? Weight is defined as the amount of mass something holds. Weight isn’t measured in fat, muscle, bone, or any other single determining factor. Your bodyweight is a combination of fat, water, muscle, bone, and other matter your body holds. Too many people focus on the amount of “weight” they hold, versus the amount of fat, high cholesterol, blood pressure, or other detrimental health factors one may have.
What weighs more, 100 pounds of rock, or 100 pounds of marshmallows? This is a trick question because they both weigh the same. The difference is the volume of the two. 100 pounds of rock may fit in a suit case, where 100 pounds of marshmallows may fit in an entire room. Would you rather have 5 pound of rocks, or 5 pounds of marshmallows inside of you? This is one reason why I’m against telling my clients to weigh themselves daily, or even weekly the first few weeks of training. I want my clients to know that they may not lose weight the first few weeks because they may have a net loss of fat, but a net gain of muscle. Although the scale may not show these results, you will see in your clothing that you are losing “volume”, but gaining “density”. Density is the amount of space your body takes up compared to the amount of weight you hold. Muscle is dense. Fat is not. Another benefit of gaining lean muscle is that it burns fat better (a pound of muscle burns 2-3x more calories than a pound of fat). So although you may not lose weight the first few weeks, your body will become a better and more efficient machine. Instead of relying on the scale, rely on measurements. Measure your waist, your thighs, and your arms and see what changes you see over the first few weeks of training. If you don’t see any changes, make sure your diet is in check. My motto: Eat Right, Train Right, and Look Right!
You will lose weight, and you may have great results immediately, but if you don’t, take a look in the mirror and don’t rely on the scale to tell you how you are doing on your journey towards better health.